Travis County DA to delay bringing Javier Ambler, Michael Ramos cases to grand jury

Austin

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Travis County District Attorney announced Wednesday she will delay bringing two cases at the center of the law enforcement and use of force discussion in Central Texas to grand juries until next year.

On Wednesday, District Attorney Margaret Moore said she will be delaying the cases of Javier Ambler and Michael Ramos.

Javier Ambler died in the custody of Williamson County deputies in March 2019, and Michael Ramos, whose death sparked protests in Austin along with the death of George Floyd, was shot and killed by an Austin police officer in April.

Instead, Moore said she will pass the cases off to the newly elected District Attorney to handle in January. Moore conceded the Democratic primary runoff to her opponent, José Garza, earlier this month.

The cases were originally supposed to be presented to a special grand jury in August.

In a statement, Moore said the Civil Rights Unit of the office will still be preparing the cases for grand juries as normal. That way, they’ll be ready to be presented as soon as the new DA takes office.

You can read Moore’s full statement below.

“When I created the Civil Rights Unit in this office, one of my main goals was to develop community confidence in the thoroughness and fairness of the process by which we handle officer-involved use-of-force cases. The voters of Travis County have spoken. By overwhelmingly supporting a candidate for District Attorney who ran on a platform of changing how officer-involved shooting cases are prosecuted, I believe the the community has clearly stated it would like to see the new administration oversee the prosecution of these cases from beginning to end. We are mindful of the possible pain and discomfort to the families of Mr. Ambler and Mr. Ramos by delaying the presentation to a grand jury. We have reached out to the families through their representatives to inform them of this decision and explained our reasons for doing so. We have taken into careful consideration all factors, including the impact this decision would have on the families, and believe that it is the responsible thing to do out of deference to and respect for what can only be viewed as the community’s mandate in the recent election specifically, in relation to how officer-involved shooting cases are handled.”

District Attorney Margaret Moore

Attorneys, law enforcement react to Moore’s decision

Attorneys for the law enforcement officers involved in both cases released a statement as well, saying they were ‘disappointed’ in Moore’s decision.

“If Ms. Moore had the evidence to secure any indictments, she would have already done so. This hand off makes abundantly clear that politics, rather than law, is dictating what happens to our police officer clients,” said Attorneys Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell.

They called the six-month delay an “abdication of responsibility and an affront to the involved participants who want a speedy resolution.”

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody also sounded off on social media on the Ambler case. He called the delay ‘inexcusable,’ saying Moore blamed voters for the reason for the delay.

“This delay is unfair to both the Ambler family and to the deputies involved, who will now have to wait nearly two years before they discover if there will be any indictments in this case,” Chody said. “In this instance, justice delayed truly is justice denied.

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said his office remains “committed to seeking answers.” Dick’s office entered a joint investigation into the Ambler case with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office in June.

“My office will diligently continue our work to determine if a crime was committed within our jurisdictional limits during the Austin Police Department’s investigation of the Williamson County deputies involved in Mr. Ambler’s death,” Dick said in a statement. “We will continue to assist any prosecutor in Travis County who desires to see that justice is done.”

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